Aphids On Broccoli And Other Common Diseases On Broccoli You Should Know
Aphids, as well as other pests and diseases, love broccoli plants, and all the members of the brassica family. Member of the Brassica genus includes broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mustard, and collards. We will discuss more about aphids on broccoli on this post.
Aphids are typically referred to as plant lice, and they can become a major problem when they find plants they love. Aphid colonies can damage or kill entire crops, or they might transmit viral diseases to your cucumber and tomato plants. It is important to learn how to kill aphids naturally, and how to prevent infestations.
What Are Aphids?
Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that are only one-tenth of an inch. It’s hard to believe that something so tiny can cause so much damage! Aphids can be winged or wingless, and they often are blend into the leaf or steam they select.
These insects use their straw-like mouth to suck plant juices from your vegetables. They prefer to feed in groups, and a group of aphids can kill plants in no time because they deprive the plant of the fuel needed to survive.
Another problem is that aphids carry a virus that they transfer while feeding. This virus can be lethal to certain crops, such as potatoes, citrus fruits, and grains.
What Does Aphid Damage Look Like?
Gardeners face a variety of pests and diseases, so how can we be sure if the damage is caused by aphids? The first, and most obvious, sign is curled, mottled leaves, which means some type of pest is making your garden bed their home.
Over time, the plants start to look stick and refuse to grow. The leaves lose their chlorophyll, so they might look faded and wilted. If a group of aphids takes over a stem, it often curls up and stops growing.
Aphids prefer sheltered spots on a plant, such as where the leaves join to the stem. On broccoli plants, they like to gather inside of broccoli heads. If you notice ants gathering near your plants, you probably have aphids. Aphids release a sweet fluid called honeydew, which ants love.
The honeydew also can create an environment that leads to mold growth, specifically sooty molds. This mold coats the leaves of the plant, stopping sunlight from reaching it.
How To Kill Aphids On Broccoli
Organic pest control can seem tricky, but you don’t want to spray chemicals on your veggie plants. There are several methods for killing aphids in your garden.
Remove the aphids by hand
You should pinch the infested leaves or stems from the plants and dispose of properly.
If you find aphids on a stem or leafy greens, remove them with a strong jet of water. Aphids have weak legs, so they won’t be able to get back onto the plant. Do this every few days to keep the population controlled.
Treat with an insecticidal soap
Sometimes, you get colonies of aphids in your garden. Dilute the insecticidal soap based on the label. You can also add 1 TBSP of dishwashing soap for each gallon of water and spray your plants. Doing so removes the waxy coating off of the aphids, causing them to die.
Introduce natural predators
Lady beetles, lacewings, and hoverfly larvae are aphid predators. Leave early aphid colonies in the spring to attract these predators and increase the predators' numbers. You can also purchase bugs in bulk from gardening supply stores.
Use Neem Oil
Pure neem oil can be diluted in water and sprayed on plants with aphids. The chemicals in Neem oil are a repellent against aphids, as well as a variety of other common garden pests like cabbage worms and beetles.
Encourage nesting birds
Another natural way to control the aphid population on your broccoli plants is by encouraging nesting birds, such as wrens and chickadees, to visit your garden. The best way to encourage birds to visit is by offering them free food and housing. These birds like to nest in small trees or twiggy shrubs. Hydrangeas are a particular favorite! Small birdhouses designed for these species is a good idea as well. Put out feeders filled with seeds. Birds that feed there are likely to feed on the aphids as well.
Common Broccoli Pests
Aside from aphids, broccoli face problems from a variety of pests and diseases. Here are some other pests that your broccoli plants might encounter.
Cabbage worms are the larvae of moths and butterflies. If you notice white or grey moths flying around your garden beds, that means you will have a problem with cabbage worms in the future. Cabbage worms cause major damage as they feed on the broccoli leaves.
To take care of cabbage worms, hand pick as many as possible. Introduce Bacillus thuringiensis or spinosad to get rid of the young larvae.
Another frustrating garden pest is flea beetles, that are tiny, black insects that create dozens of small holes in your foliage. The damage can kill seedlings and reduce the productivity of mature plants. You can use an insecticidal soap to get rid of flea beetles, but make sure the label says it will work for them! Unfortunately, flea beetles overwinter in your soil. Cleaning up in your garden bed reduces their numbers.
As the name suggests, cutworms cut off the seedlings at the ground level. These pests work at night, so you wake up to find destruction in your garden. The damage seems to happen overnight!
To reduce the damage, make sure you plant sturdy seedlings rather than just seeds. Wrap the stem with a collar of cloth or cardboard. Thuringiensis or spinosad sprays can infestations of mature plants.
Common Broccoli Diseases
Broccoli plants face a variety of bacterial and fungal diseases that can damage your crop. To reduce diseases, make sure you rotate crops to avoid growing members of the same family in the same area more than once every three years. Yes, every THREE years!
Make sure you space your plants far enough apart to allow for good circulation. Use irrigation techniques to give the plants the appropriate amount of water without being too much.
This is one of the worst diseases your broccoli plants will face. It leaves your plants looking like they were dusted with flour. At first, powdery mildew affects the leaves of the broccoli plant. Then, the spores spread to the stems and head if you don’t control it fast.
It affects the stems and leaves of all members of the Brassica genus, including broccoli. The damage can cause severing at the base of the plant. The lesions are brown with a purple outline that contain pinhead-sized, black dots.
Growing broccoli plants can be hard because a variety of pests and diseases love to attack your plant. With the right prevention methods, such as planting at appropriate distances and adding irrigation to your garden beds, you can prevent some of the problems.
If prevention fails, organic methods will work to get rid of the pests. Check your plants often for diseases. Organic methods work best when you apply them quickly at the onset of a disease or infection.